HUMOR: Are We Having Fun Yet?

Summer break’s nearly over and since my kids are still alive and I haven’t checked into the local looney bin, I’m chalking it up as a success. Normally, the kids pester me as much as the summer gnats in the backyard that incessantly dive bomb my ears. “What are we doing for fun today? What will we do after that? What will be our fun for tomorrow?” It’s turning into a long summer with both gnats and kids driving me to the edge of insanity.

Most years I figure I can either entertain them with unlimited fun, or suffer through whining, wrestling, not-so-nice teasing, and the nails getting shaken out of our walls. So as an act of sheer survival, I’ll haul a mini-van brimming with children and snack wrappers to multiple parks, Sonic Happy Hour’s half-price slushies, matinee movies, and hikes to Grape Creek. The kids have a blast! I, however, barely make it to bed at night before keeling over unconscious in an almost comatose state. Even in my dreams, I hear them asking, “So tell us again, what exactly are we doing tomorrow?”

Well, not anymore. I finally got the guts to tell my hooligans I’m no longer under obligation to provide unlimited fantastical delights of fun, fun, fun in the summertime! I’m boycotting fun. Just typing these words sends tingles through my fingers.

Really though, I should have seen the writing on the wall last fall. I was trying to convince the kids to tidy up the house to get ready for the semi-monthly house cleaners. Although the kids have always had regular chores, I take comfort knowing the house will occasionally be legitimately sanitized by professionals. Upon my requests (aka nagging) I could almost hear a symphony of violins accompanying the children’s woes as they declared how preposterous it was for them “to clean up for the cleaners.”

Appalled by their petty complaints to a tired mother, I decided it was finally time to have my kids assume more responsibility for the deep cleaning. After all, I’m supposed to be training responsible children not pursuing a perfectly polished home. So with tears in my eyes I called to cancel the cleaning service. The hardest part about teaching kids that there’s more to life than just having fun is that it requires an awful lot of work on my part!

I was also thrilled this summer to discover the benefits of teenage summer jobs. What a relief it is to appreciate how similar to daycare those are. They are still under adult supervision, but better yet, this time the teens are getting paid. Hopefully, they also learn to not squander their paycheck, and work through the growing pains of actually depositing some of it into a savings account (a difficult concept for many these days, I know).

As much as I tried boycotting an over-abundance of fun this summer season we still couldn’t help but have a great time. It’s just been a different kind of fun. Now our activities include picking up rusty barrels and trash along the lake shore when water skiing or handing out food at the local shelter.

My four-year-old has never had more fun than when he gets to hand out hundreds of fresh apples at Loaves and Fishes Care and Share to good folks who, in turn, smother him with praise and affection. His little hand would wave in the air while hollering “Have a good day” to his new-found friends.

Summer may be nearly over, but it’s not too late for you to reach an epiphany of your own. Try putting a twist to your summer activities that will encourage growth, learning, and trying on someone else’s shoes for awhile. You may not know what real fun is until you try it!

Ashley R. Smith

Ashley R. Smith is an elected Cañon City Council Member starting in 2016 and mother of six. She has volunteered for various charitable and Americanist causes, including providing regional mentorship to teens. Find out more at ashleyswriteidea@gmail.com